The New (and Improved) U. S. Inland Rules of the Road

By Lieutenant Commander Elbert S. Maloney, U. S. Navy, and Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U. S. Navy

On 24 December 1980, then-President Jimmy Carter signed PL 96-591, The Inland Navigational Rules Act of 1980. These new internal rules will become effective on the 24th of this month for all U. S. waters, except the Great Lakes where an effective date will be separately promulgated following coordination with Canada.

The format of the new U. S. Inland Navigational Rules follows that of the 72 COLREGS, even to the extent of omitting Rule 28. Major changes from the old internal rules were necessary to bring the U. S. internal rules into close conformity with the international rules. The most significant changes include:

  • A requirement for safe speed at all times, not just under conditions of reduced visibility.
  • Changes to the right-of-way rules for sailing vessels.
  • Revised responsibilities for the give-way (burdened) vessel, and broadened options for the stand-on (privileged) vessel.
  • Changes in navigation lights.
  • Changes in fog signals.

There will still be differences between the new Inland Rules and the 72 COLREGS. The significant ones are:

  • The new Inland Rules' whistle signals remain one of "intent" rather than of "action being taken."
  • The cumbersome 72 COLREGS signals used by vessels overtaking and being overtaken in narrow channels were not adopted.
  • Differences in lights on towing vessels exist.

The new Inland Rules contain some provisions that have no parallel in 72 COLREGS, such as:

  • On the Great Lakes, an after all-round light may be carried in lieu of the after 20-point range light plus a separate stern light.
  • On the Great Lakes and Western Rivers, a down-bound vessel has the right-of-way over an up-bound vessel, and either of these has the right-of-way over a vessel crossing a river or channel.

In addition, the new Inland Rules have omitted reference to a "vessel constrained by her draft." It was believed that because the international rules do not assign the right-of-way to the constrained vessel, this rule could be abused and might result in situations in which a vessel, constrained by her draft, might attempt to claim a right-of-way when she was not entitled to it.

The new Inland Rules also followthe 72 COLREGS format by providing for four annexes, paralleling those of the international rules. An additional annex concerning pilot rules is expected to be developed. The five annexes will be promulgated by Coast Guard regulations rather than being spelled out in the act of Congress.

The establishment of the new U. S.Inland Rules of the Road will causesome problems during the transition  period, but the use of a unified set of rules and regulations for all inland waters and their high degree of conformity with 72 COLREGS will ultimately ease the problems of compliance for all mariners.

The following compares the new Inland Rules with the 72 COLREGSand the previous internal U. S. rules.


The New Inland Rules

Comparison with 72 COLREGS

(By Lieutenant Commander Cutler)

Comparison with Old Inland Rules

(By Lieutenant Commander Maloney)

Part A: General

Rule 1 : Application

-The vesting authority and realm of applicability differ as would be expected. A significant factor is the inclusion of applicability to U. S. vessels operating in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. The new Inland Rules replace the current Great Lakes Rules and facilitate the handling of reports of violations between the two nations. (Section 7 of the public law enacting these new inland rules exempts the Great Lakes from the 24 December 1981 enactment date in order to provide additional time for the Canadian Government to review the new rules and thereby allow both nations to adopt them simultaneously. It is currently anticipated that the shift will occur on 1 April 1982.)

-Similar to the rules establishing the old Inland Rules.

Rule 2: Responsibility

-Same as 72 COLREGS


-Establishes a clearer definition of the "Rule of Good Seamanship" and the "General Prudential Rule."

Rule 3: General Definitions

-While the International Rules simply provide a list of vessels defined as "restricted in their ability to maneuver," the new Inland Rules include the caveat "but are not limited to" in order to prevent the list of situations from being considered exhaustive.

-The term "vessel constrained by her draft" has been deleted from the new Inland Rules. The U.S. position at the United Nations Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization during the formulation of the 72 COLREGS was in disagreement with the inclusion of special lights and dayshapes for draft-constrained vessels since no special provisions for maneuvering are also included except the warning to "avoid impeding safe passage." It was believed that the inclusion of special lights and dayshapes might convey an assumption of right of-way which is not supported in the maneuvering rules. This concept carried over into the development of the new Inland Rules, and resulted in the deletion of the term from Rule 3 and all corresponding references to it in the 72 COLREGS.

-The various U. S. inland waters are defined.

-The term "Secretary" is defined as the secretary of the cabinet department in which the Coast Guard is operating.

-The terms "Inland Waters," "Inland Rules," and "International Regulations"are also defined.

-Important changes include the addition of definitions for a non-displacement craft, seaplanes, vessels not under command, and a change in the definition of Western Rivers.

Part B: Steering And Sailing Rules

Subpart I: Conduct Of Vessels In Any Condition Of Visibility

Rule 4: Application

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-No comparable rule

Rule 5: Lookout

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-The definition of a proper lookout is more definitive than that found in the old "Rule of Good Seamanship."

Rule 6: Safe Speed

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-The definition of safe speed is broader in scope than the one in the old rules. Vessels are now required to travel at a safe speed under all conditions of visibility, commensurate with conditions, equipment, and the maneuverability of the vessel.

Rule 7: Risk of Collision

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-Amplifies existing rules. The new rule recognizes the wide use of radar and, while not requiring outfitting of all vessels with radar, requires the use of radar when installed.

Rule 8: Action to Avoid Collision

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-Essentially a new rule, it directs positive, timely action with regard for special circumstances, such as other vessels and possible shoal water.

Rule 9: Narrow Channels

-Vessels operating in narrow channels on the Great Lakes, Western Rivers, or other waters specified by "the Secretary" must adhere to additional maneuvering requirements which give right-of-way to a vessel proceeding downriver (following current) over one which is proceeding against the current.

-The new Inland Rules replace the word "may" with "shall" in discussing the use of the danger signal to express doubt in both the crossing and overtaking situations, thereby making the employment of this signal mandatory instead of optional.

-The "Charlie" (affirmative) whistle signal (one prolonged, one short, one prolonged, and one short), used as a reply in the 72 COLREGS overtaking situation, is replaced by a response identical to the proposal (i.e., one or two short blasts depending upon the particular situation). This deviation from the International Rules is consistent with the old Pilot Rules (33 CFR 80.6[a]).

-The new Inland Rules delete the caveat "when overtaking can take place only if the vessel to be overtaken has to take action to permit safe passing," thereby making the exchange of whistle signals mandatory in all cases of overtaking in a narrow channel.

-Rule 9(a)(i), similar to the old Inland Rules , now requires all vessels, not only steam vessels, to keep to the right of a channel. Rule 9(a)(ii) is similar to existing Western Rivers Rules and has been expanded to include the Great Lakes. Rule 9(d), a new rule, is a directive for vessels crossing a channel to stay clear of vessels which can only navigate within the channel. A vessel that can only navigate within the channel signifies this by sounding the danger signal when the intentions of the crossing vessel are in doubt. This rule does not shift the right-of-way. Rule 9(d), similar to the old "bend" signal, now calls for one prolonged blast instead of one long blast.

Rule 10: Vessel Traffic Service

-While the International Rule 10 addresses traffic separation schemes, the new Inland Rules do not. Inland Rule 10 does ensure compliance with Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) regulations that may be in effect in a given port or geographical area. This gives existing VTS regulations authority under the Inland Rules, permits the establishment of new ones if necessary, and serves to point out tothe mariner that such regulations may be in effect in ports on his itinerary.

-Requires compliance with Federal Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) regulations.

Subpart II: Conduct Of Vessels In Sight Of One Another

Rule 11: Application

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-This rule is consistent with the old Inland Rules

Rule 12: Sailing Vessels

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-Updates the old Inland Rules for the more prevalent fore-and-aft sailing rigs. The rule deletes the previous reference to vessels running-free.

Rule 13: Overtaking

-The new Inland Rules give precedence to the overtaking situation over all situations included in Rules 4 through 18, whereas the International Rules specify only "Section II," which equates to Rules 11 through 18.

-Same as old Inland Rules.

Rule 14: Head-On Situation

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-Clarifies the old Inland Rules and requires each vessel to turn to the right.

Rule 15: Crossing Situation

-An added paragraph (15[6]), applying only to the Great Lakes and Western Rivers; gives right-of-way to a power-driven vessel ascending or descending a river over one which is crossing.

-Rule 15(a) is consistent with the old Inland Rules. Rule 15(b) extends the Western Rivers Rules to the Great Lakes.

Rule 16: Action by Give-Way Vessel

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-More definitive than the old rules, this rule requires the giveway vessel to take early and substantial action. There is no reference to speed in this rule, as there was in the old rules. Speed is now addressed for all situations by Rule 6.

Rule 17: Action by the Stand-On Vessel

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-This rule is a major departure from the requirements levied on a "privileged" vessel under the old rules . The stand-on vessel is now permitted to take action, not only when in extremis, but also as soon as it becomes apparent that the vessel required to keep out of the way is not taking appropriate action.

Rule 18: Responsibilities Between Vessels

-As discussed in Rule 3, the new Inland Rules do not include provisions for vessels constrained by draft. Because of this deletion, Rule 18 has a slightly different paragraph designation scheme from that found in the 72 COLREGS. Otherwise, Rule 18 is identical.

-This new rule takes the many different rules, found in various sections of the old rules, and catalogs them in one location. In addition, seaplanes are now addressed.

Subpart III: Conduct Of Vessels In Restricted Visibility

Rule 19: Conduct of Vessels in Restricted Visibility

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-This rule now applies to vessels operating near, as well as under, conditions of restricted visibility. The speed of a vessel is not discussed, since a vessel is now charged to proceed at a safe speed at all times (Rule 6). Rule 19(d), along with Rule 7(b), establishes the importance of radar. A ship is no longer required to stop her engines 4pon hearing a fog signal forward of the beam. The ship is now directed to reduce her speed to minimum steerage way, removing all way if necessary, unless it has been determined that the risk of collision does not exist.

Part C: Lights and Shapes

Rule 20: Application

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-It is now a requirement to display navigation lights during daylight hours under conditions of reduced visibility.

Rule 21: Definitions

-The definitions of masthead and sidelights have been extended in the new Inland Rules to permit some deviation from the fore and aft centerline requirement for vessels less than 12 meters in length —i.e., the masthead light and combined sidelight lantern,when used, must be placed as close to the centerline of the vessel as possible, but must not necessarily be on the centerline if not practicable.

-An additional "special flashing light," to be carried forward on the centerline of a vessel being pushed ahead, is defined as yellow, flashing 50-70 times per minute, and covering an arc from directly forward to anywhere between 90° and 112.5° on each beam.

-Adopts the international flashing light for non-displacement vessels. Previously, it was mandatory for the stern light to be at a ship's stern. Now, it must be located as near as possible to a vessel's stern.

Rule 22: Visibility of Lights

-The "special flashing light" described above is further defined as having a minimum visible range of two miles in all cases.

- The white all-around lights prescribed in Rule 24 for vessels or objects being towed, which are partially submerged such that they are rendered inconspicuous, are defined as having a minimum visibility of three miles.

-Visibility of all lights have been increased by one mile. Otherwise, the new rule is essentially the same as the old rule.

Rule 23: Powered-Driven Vessels Underway

-The new Inland Rules permit a power-driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length to show one 360° white light instead of the two masthead and separate stern lights prescribed for all other power-driven vessels. This is provided for in the 72 COLREGS as well, but there the limiting length is only 7 meters instead of 12 and there is an additional phrase in the international version which further defines vessels qualifying for this exemption as having a maximum speed of 7 knots. Further, where the International Rules require sidelights only "if practicable," the new Inland Rules allow no option in the requirement for sidelights. This was decided upon because it was believed that the types of vessels generally operating in U. S. waters would have no problem in displaying sidelights, unlike other parts of the world where very small vessels with maximum speeds of less than 7 knots are more common and their ability to display sidelights is somewhat more questionable.

-A continuation of an existing Great Lakes Rule permits vessels on the Great Lakes to retain their 3600 white light in lieu of the second masthead and stern lights. This exception was adopted because a light which can be seen above a low-lying fog was deemed more desirable than a light which accurately marks the after-limit (stern) of a vessel.

-Vessels less than 20 meters long are exempted from having their forward masthead light forward of amidships but are required to locate it "as far forward as possible."

-These rules, previously found in various rules, are now located in one rule and have been made easier to understand. In addition, there are now provisions for special lighting of non-displacement vessels.

Rule 24: Towing and Pushing

-Vessels towing or pushing show the same lights or dayshapes as those in international waters except that the two or three white vertical lights may be displayed at the forward or after masthead light positions and two yellow lights in a vertical line must be displayed in lieu of a stern light by vessels pushing ahead or towing alongside.

-Vessels being towed are required to display the special flashing light described in Rule 21.

-If the vessel or object being pushed ahead is partially submerged so as to make it difficult to see, the new Inland Rules prescribe the following additional requirements:

(1) If the tow is less than 25 meters wide, one 3600 white light at or near each end.

(2) If more than 25 meters wide, four 3600 white lights at the corners to mark its length and breadth.

(3) If the tow is greater than 100 meters long, additional white all-around lights must be placed so there is never any more than 100 meters of tow without a light.

(4) A diamond dayshape as close to the end of the tow as is practical.

(5) The towing vessel may illuminate the tow with a searchlight to alert a passing vessel to the tow's presence.

-The new Inland Rules retain a provision of the Western Rivers Rules that exempts vessels towing or pushing on those rivers from the requirement for masthead lights. This exception was necessitated by the construction of many Western River tow boats with their pilothouses at the highest point permissible for bridge clearance to maximize forward visibility.

-Tugs that are mechanically locked in the pushing mode are considered to be a single vessel instead of a tug and tow. Vessels pressed into towing are exempted from having to show the required lights, but must comply as best they can.

Rule 25: Sailing Vessels Underway and Vessels Under Oars

-Both the International Rules and the new Inland Rules permit sailboats to carry side and stern lights in a combined lantern at or near the top of the mast, but the International Rules limit the vessels to less than 12 meters in length, and the new Inland Rules specify less than 20 meters.

-The new Inland Rules exempt a sailing vessel of less than 12 meters from the requirement to carry a day shape (cone, apex down) when also being propelled by machinery.

-This rule adopts the conical shape (apex down)instead of the previous single black ball dayshape to indicate a sailing vessel propelled by both sail and power.

Rule 26: Fishing Vessels

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-This rule adopts a uniform system of lights for fishing vessels. There are now separate lights for vessels trawling (green over white) and for all other fishing vessels (red over white).

Rule 27: Vessels not Under Command or Restricted in Their Ability to Maneuver

-In prescribing the lights and shapes for dredging and underwater operations, the new Inland Rules do not specify masthead, side, and stern lights for vessels making way, as does the International version. Instead, the new Inland Rule discusses, in the corresponding subparagraph, the use of the same lights and shapes while at anchor.

-The new Inland Rules have added a light equivalent (red-white-red vertical) to the "rigid replica of the International Code Flag A" required for vessels engaged in diving operations which are too small to be expected to display the lights or dayshapes prescribed earlier in the rule for larger vessels.

-Unlike the 72 COLREGS, new Inland Rule 27 exempts vessels less than 12 meters long from the various lights and dayshapes prescribed in the rule (except for those involved in diving operations which must display the required lights and/or shapes no matter what their length).

-New rules, not previously covered

Rule: 28 (Reserved)

-Because of the deletion of the "vessels constrained by their draft" provisions from the new Inland Rules, Rule 28 is simply marked "Reserved" in order to maintain the sequential correspondence of rule numbers between the two sets of rules.


Rule 29: Pilot Vessels

-The new Inland Rules add a phrase of clarification to the wording concerning the lights and shapes required for a pilot vessel at anchor, but are otherwise identical.

-The previous rules have been streamlined, and the rule for sailing pilot vessels has been dropped.

Rule 30: Anchored Vessels and Vessels Aground

-The dayshapes and lights prescribed for anchoring are not required in the new Inland version for vessels less than 20 meters long when "…at anchor in a special anchorage area designated by the Secretary [of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating]."

-The lights and shapes prescribed for vessels aground are not required of vessels less than 12 meters in length under the new Inland Rules (less than 7 meters in the International Rules).

-Only significant difference is the requirement for vessels longer than 100 meters to use working lights to illuminate their decks.

Rule 31: Seaplanes

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-This is a new rule.

Part D: Sound and Light Signals

Rule 32: Definitions

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-Similar to previous rules

Rule 33: Equipment for Sound Signals

-Same as 72 COLREGS

-Specifications for whistles and bells are in Annex III.

Rule 34: Maneuvering and Warning Signals

-The signals of intent currently used under the present Inland Rules are preserved in the new version. The proposal-and-reply whistle signals were considered by the committee to be safer for use on U. S. inland waterways than the action signals used on the high seas. Convenience is also a factor in that many inland routes are quite snake-like and would require an almost continuous sounding of the whistle were a vessel required to signal the action of his rudder rather than his intended passage of another vessel.

-The optional light used to supplement whistle signals found in the 72 COLREGs appears in the new Inland Rules as well, but the minimum visible range is two miles instead of five, and the light can be yellow instead of just white.

-The undefined "long" blast has been eliminated from the new rules, but the requirement for a signal upon leaving a berth has been retained and changed to a prolonged blast.

-The new rules recognize bridge-to-bridge communications as legal substitutes for the meeting, crossing, and overtaking whistle signals.

-The rule governing when whistle signals are required has been clarified—i.e., "…when they will meet or cross within a half of a mile of each other…" Whistle signals now may be supplemented by flashing lights. The prolonged blast is now used for entering a bend, and the long blast has been deleted. The use of the bridge-to-bridge radio to exchange signals has been codified.

Rule 35: Sound Signals in Restricted Visibility

- The new inland version adds the phrase "whether underway or at anchor" to vessels fishing and those restricted in their ability to maneuver in the requirement for sounding one prolonged and two short blasts during periods of restricted visibility.

-Vessels less than 20 meters long, as well as "a barge, canal boat, scow or other nondescript craft," are not required to sound fog signals while anchored in special areas designated by the secretary of the cabinet department in which the Coast Guard is operating.

-The maximum interval between sound signals is now two minutes. Fog signals have now been added for it vessel not under command, a vessel under way but not making way, a vessel being towed, and a vessel aground. The signal previously only used by a towing vessel is now used by all vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver.

Rule 36: Signals to Attract Attention

-Same as 72 COLREGS.

-Similar to the old rules.

Rule 37: Distress Signal

-Same as 72 COLREGS.

-Adopts the use of the internationally recognized signals. These signals are contained in Annex IV .

Part E: Exemptions

Rule 38: Exemptions

-This section is of interest only on a one-time basis for vessel owners to determine whether their vessels are exempt from physical configuration changes.

-This rule delays/exempts certain portions of the new rules, such as construction requirements for lights, for vessels built in compliance with the old rules.

Note: The remaining sections of Public Law 96-591 deal with fines, the establishment of supplementary annexes, the creation of a Rules of the Road Advisory Council to review both the Inland and International Rules, and establishment of the enactment date of the new rules.



New Inland Rules of the Road Quiz

1. Which of the following vessels would be treated simply as a power-driven vessel under way?

A. A destroyer launching a helicopter.

B. An oil tanker whose draft restricts her to the channel.

C. vessel trawling.

D. A tug whose tow severely restricts her maneuverability.

2. Vessel "A" has proposed overtaking vessel "B" on the latter's port side in a narrow channel. Which signal would be an appropriate reply?

A. One short blast.

B. One prolonged blast, one short blast, one prolonged blast, one short blast.

C. Two short blasts.

D. One short blast, one prolonged blast, one short blast.

3. A partly submerged object (35 meters x 50 meters) being towed should exhibit:

A. Four all-round white lights to mark its length and breadth.

B. Sidelights and a sternlight.

C. Two vertical yellow lights.

D. No special lighting.

4. A vessel aground should display what dayshape(s)?

A. One ball.

B. Two balls in a vertical line.

C. Three balls in a vertical line.

D. No dayshape.

5. A yellow "special flashing light" is used to identify:

A. A minesweeper.

B. A self-propelled dredge under way.

C. A vessel being pushed ahead.

D. A dredge at anchor.

6. A power-driven vessel leaving a dock shall sound:

A. A long blast.

B. A short blast.

C. A prolonged blast.

D. No signal.

7. Which power-driven vessel is permitted to carry an all-round white light in lieu of the second masthead and stem lights?

A. A vessel operating in inland waters only.

B. A vessel operating in international waters only.

C. A vessel whose function requires operating in both inland and international waters.

D. A vessel operating on the Great Lakes only.

8. A vessel mines weeping in daylight should display:

A. Two double frustrums of cones, black and white horizontally striped over red.

B. Three balls—one near the foremast and one at each yardarm.

C. Ball-diamond-ball arranged vertically.

D. No dayshape for minesweeping is provided for under the new Inland Rules.

9. A vessel not under command at night should display what lights:

A. Red-white-red vertically.

B. Three red vertically.

C. "Special flashing light."

D. Two red vertically.

10. Two short blasts sounded by a vessel meeting another indicates:

A. "My rudder is left."

B. "My rudder is right."

C. "I intend to leave you on my port side."

D. "I intend to leave you on my starboard side."

11. A "Long" blast is sounded when:

A. Leaving a dock.

B. Approaching a blind bend.

C. Both a and b above.

D. Not used in new Inland Rules.

12. When a vessel in sight of another is in doubt as to the other's intentions, the vessel in doubt should:

A. Immediately sound at least five short blasts.

B. Immediately sound four or more short blasts.

C. Signal "November Charlie" by light or flags.

D. Stop all engines as soon as practicable.

13. Which dayshape(s) is/are displayed by a vessel at anchor?

14. A vessel "trolling" would have right-of-way over:

A. A vessel under sail (only).

B. A vessel launching aircraft.

C. A vessel displaying two balls vertically arranged.

D. Not recognized under the new Inland Rules.

15. An alternate to sounding one short blast in a meeting situation would be:

A. One prolonged followed by two short blasts.

B. Hoisting numeral pennant "one."

C. Proposing a port-to-port passage via bridge-to-bridge radiotelephone.

D. There is no legal alternative.

16. A green light over a white light would be used by a vessel engaged in:

A. Sailing.

B. Trawling.

C. Towing.

D. Launching aircraft.

17. A vessel fishing while anchored during a period of restricted visibility (fog) would sound:

A. One prolonged followed by two short blasts.

B. Rapid ringing of the bell.

C. One prolonged blast.

D. No signal.

18. A power-driven vessel under way in Jog would sound:

A. One prolonged blast every minute.

B. One prolonged blast every two minutes.

C. Two prolonged blasts every two minutes.

D. Five or more short blasts.

19. A vessel pushing another vessel ahead shall display what lights astern:

A. A yellow over white.

B. Two yellow lights arranged vertically.

C. A normal stern light.

D. A searchlight.

20. A sailing vessel 11 meters long must display what dayshape if proceeding with the help of an engine:

A. A cone apex down.

B. A cone apex up.

C. A diamond shape.

D. No day shape is required for a vessel of this length.



  1. B—No Rule
  2. C—Rule 9 (e)(i)
  3. A—Rule 24 (g)
  4. C—Rule 30 (d)(ii)
  5. C—Rule 24 (f)(i)
  6. C—Rule 34 (g)
  7. D—Rule 23 (d)
  8. B—Rule 27 (f)
  9. D—Rule 27 (a)(i)
  10. D—Rule 34 (a)
  11. D—No Rule
  12. A—Rule 34 (d)
  13. B—Rule 30 (a)(i)
  14. D—No Rule
  15. C—Rule 34 (h)
  16. B—Rule 26 (b)(i)
  17. A—Rule 35 (c)
  18. B—Rule 35 (a)
  19. B—Rule 24 (c)(iii)
  20. D—Rule 25 (e)

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

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The U.S. Naval Institute Chronicles series focuses on the relevance of history by exploring topics... Read More
The U.S. Naval Institute on Vietnam: A Retrospective
The U.S. Naval Institute Chronicles series focuses on the relevance of history by exploring topics... Read More
The U.S. Naval Institute on Vietnam: Coastal and Riverine Warfare
The U.S. Naval Institute Chronicles series focuses on the relevance of history by exploring topics... Read More
The U.S. Naval Institute on Marine Corps Aviation
The U.S. Naval Institute Chronicles series focuses on the relevance of history by exploring topics... Read More
The U.S. Naval Institute on the Marine Corps at War
The U.S. Naval Institute Chronicles series focuses on the relevance of history by exploring topics... Read More
The U.S. Naval Institute on the U.S. Coast Guard
The U.S. Naval Institute Chronicles series focuses on the relevance of history by exploring topics... Read More
The U.S. Naval Institute on the Panama Canal
The U.S. Naval Institute Chronicles series focuses on the relevance of history by exploring topics... Read More
The Bluejacket's Manual, 23rd Edition
In 1902 when Lt. Ridley McLean first wrote this "sailor's bible," he described it as a manual for... Read More
The Parent's Guide to the U.S. Navy
Read an excerpt! Military ways can be enigmatic, resulting in an alien world where acronyms often... Read More

Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer
12:30pm, “Shifley Lecture Series,” U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD /... Read More
Videotape Interview
10:00am, “Veterans Oral Histories Series,” American Veterans Center, 1100 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington,... Read More
29 March - Presentation
12:00 PM | National Museum of the United States Navy | Washington, DC Read More


Conferences and Events

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From the Press

23 February - Seminar

Sat, 2019-02-23

David F. Winkler

3 March - Lecture

Sun, 2019-03-03

Stephen A. Bourque

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